INFP or ISFP? 7 ways to tell them apart

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Find my original article at Introvert, Dear.


INFPs and ISFPs are both individualistic, sensitive, caring, and highly creative individuals. Although they are both Introverted Feelers (Fi), their main difference is their auxiliary function. INFPs use Extroverted Intuition (Ne) as their auxiliary, which enables them to pick up on and interpret possible meanings behind external data. ISFPs, on the other hand, useExtroverted Sensing (Se), which makes them highly observant of their immediate physical environment.

Although INFPs and ISFPs appear to be quite similar—they both have artistic preferences and strong values—they see the world quite differently.

Below are 6 ways in which INFPs and ISFPs are different:

1. INFPs live in their inner world. ISFPs are more present and down-to-earth.

INFPs spend a lot of time in their heads. They contemplate big ideas, daydream, and reflect on their experiences. They tend to be very in touch with their inner world of thoughts and feelings, so much that they may be oblivious to what’s going on around them. In contrast, ISFPs prefer to live in the moment. They are very aware of their surroundings and are always finding ways to directly express themselves in their physical environment. For example, an ISFP may enjoy creating art, making crafts, or gardening. An INFP may take a less hands-on approach and instead enjoy studying the life of a famous artist or philosopher and learning about what inspired them.

2. INFPs express their values through language, reasoning, or stories. ISFPs express themselves through their physical actions and appearance.

INFPs have a direct relationshipwith their inner world. They explore their inner-most passions and values (Fi), through their auxiliary function, Ne. Their tertiary function, Introverted Sensing (Si), archives their memories of their impressions. They are then able to convey their values and feelings clearly through language, because they have such a vivid and detailed memory of their own dream world. For this reason, many writers are INFPs, including J.R.R. Tolkien, A. A. Milne, Virginia Woolf, and Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

ISFPs, on the other hand, have an indirect relationship with their inner world. Instead, they have a direct relationship with the outer world, thanks to their Se. Their tertiary function, Introverted Intuition (Ni), which looks at their inner world, is somewhat repressed by their auxiliary. Hence, ISFPs may feel that language is inadequate to express their deeply held values and feelings. Instead, they may express themselves directly through fashion, music, or art. They value aesthetics more than INFPs and often wear a unique look. Not surprisingly, many artists are ISFPs including Enya, Pharrell, Williams, and David Bowie.

3. INFPs are fascinated with the meaning behind art. ISFPs have a more practical attitude towards it.

Expanding on the previous points, INFPs are more concerned with the meaning, symbols, and overarching storyline behind art. For ISFPs, art in itself is the most direct and best form of communicating their feelings. They are less interested in the themes and underlying patterns.

4. When it comes to social interactions, INFPs are generally more self-conscious than ISFPs.

INFPs have a tendency to overthink things and see hidden implications and patterns everywhere. They may worry that people misunderstand them and cannot appreciate them for who they truly are beneath their quiet surface. ISFPs, in contrast, tend to take social interactions at face value, are less self-conscious, and are forward in their approach.

5. INFPs have high standards for themselves and others. ISFPs are more easygoing and adaptable.

Relatively speaking, INFPs can be easygoing and adaptable too, because their Ne enables them to be spontaneous and playful. But they can also be extremely hard on themselves and those close to them, because they tend to be idealistic and have high moral standards. ISFPs, on the other hand, are less hard on themselves and are less likely to ruminate on their own wrongdoings—unless they’ve done something they consider to be truly unforgivable. INFPs tend to ruminate quite a bit and may get torn up with remorse if they think they’ve made the wrong decision.

6. INFPs entertain ideas about the future. ISFPs are primarily concerned with the present moment.

INFPs dislike making detailed plans about the near future, such as creating an itinerary for a vacation or deciding weeks in advance what they will do on a given day. However, they are future-oriented in the sense that they are idealistic about the future. They may daydream about future careers or relationships, imagining what their life could be—which is something ISFPs wouldn’t normally do because they focus on their immediate environment.

7. INFPs make decisions based on their code of values. ISFPs make decisions based on sensory information they gather in the moment.

INFPs look at different future possibilities and carefully weigh their consequences; they base their decisions on a consistent internal framework of moral values. ISFPs are less likely to hold themselves to a strict code of pre-established values. Rather, they make decisions based on their thoughts and feelings in each moment.

INFPs and ISFPs both bring inspiration and love to the world in their own unique way. The world is a little warmer and more colorful thanks to these creative and sincere personalities.

INFP and the challenges of reality

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Here’s a rough excerpt from one of the chapters in The INFP Book.


“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

For a dreamer, the real world can be a dull and unpleasant place compared to the beauty and visions found within our imagination.  For myself, I dislike talking about the nitty-gritty details of daily life. Conversations about finance, chores, and even the news, can be irksome and tiring and are droning sounds to my psyche.  Often times, I find myself escaping from such conversations and drifting into a different universe, contemplating and exploring the various thoughts and emotions that run through my stream of consciousness.  While I’m in this dream world, everything seems much more ideal and pleasant. It’s also a place where I explore my core values and identity.

For INFPs, we have a direct relationship with our inner world: we explore our innermost passions and values (Fi), through our auxiliary function, extroverted intuition (Ne); our tertiary function, introverted sensing (Si), then archives this inner exploration in the form of memories and dreams. This enables us to have a vivid and detailed recollection of our imagination.

The problem for many INFPs is that our ideals about the world and imagination often conflict with the needs of reality. For other people, they see what we have as a distraction from what’s “important” in life.  Unfortunately, many people often don’t understand that our detachment from reality stems from our desire to find inspiration and truth about ourselves and the world.  There’s a stigma that’s attached to daydreaming: it makes us seem like unproductive and childlike individuals; when in truth, we are seeking meaning and depth.

As well, even I find that my own imaginations can get too carried away at times, where I struggle to find that right balance between my idealism and reality. There were so many things that I wanted to do: such as starting a philosophy school for children, becoming a lounge pianist at a 5-star hotel, and owning two dogs (at the time when I was young). I was restricted from achieving my many visions because I was inhibited by my reality.  Not only did I have too many ideas, it was hard for me to actualize my dreams because I wasn’t always good at being practical.

So, every day it would seem like it’s me vs. the rest of the world. Me vs. reality.  It’s an uphill battle to find that right balance between living my dreams and actually making things happen. Sometimes I even find myself surrendering to the demands of reality, settling for a job or a career path that holds little meaning to me, but seems to be the most practical option.  And often times I find that I can only go so long slaving away doing something that I’m not passionate about before I run dry and find myself in a ditch.  For this reason, it is important that I have that space, that breather where my creativity and imagination can run wild and be expressed freely in order to preserve my mental well-being.  To this day, I am forever grateful to have my piano as an outlet and a place for me to express my innermost feelings and thoughts, at times when I feel like I’ve been suffocated by the rest of the world.

You might wonder, why do INFPs have such vivid imaginations?  Is there a purpose behind all this? INFPs have an inner flame and a burning desire to reach our potential, to create an impression in this world. For many of us, we don’t only want this to happen in our dreams.

The reason why I devoted this entire section on INFP vs. reality because I’ve noticed a common struggle with INFPs when it comes to finding a way to converge our ideals with reality.  Is it possible to find that right balance?  Is it possible to be fulfilling while still being an idealist? Absolutely.

In the next few chapters, I’ll share my career journey, and how I found that place where my skills and interests align. But most importantly, I’ll share the lessons that I’ve learned and the thought processes that I’ve gone through to help get me to where I am today.

5 ways highly sensitive introverts can be more assertive

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Find my original article at Introvert, Dear.


It’s not uncommon for highly sensitive people (HSPs) to struggle with being assertive, as in, standing up for one’s rights and values in a constructive and calm way. Due to their quiet demeanor, people may talk over them and disregard their feelings and viewpoints. Because HSPs can be easily hurt, they dislike aggressive communication, and many would avoid conflict all together, hoping that the issue would simply run its course.

As an HSP, I find that I struggle with conflict. In my first year at university, I didn’t get along with my roommates. One roommate often criticized me for not adequately cleaning her dishes as we rotated doing this chore.  Her argument seemed unjust considering that she had not done her fair share of housekeeping, but I was hesitant to confront her. Instead, I held an unhealthy grudge towards her during the entire time that we were roommates.

I now realize that although HSPs struggle with conflict and are frequently being stepped on by others, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be assertive. I believe that it’s a matter of learning how to control our emotions, set boundaries, and communicate our thoughts better.

Below are 5 tips to help HSPs become more assertive:

1. Set boundaries.

Because HSPs are very perceptive of other people’s feelings, they might find themselves becoming the emotional dumping ground for other people. As an HSP and an empath, I find myself entering unhealthy relationships in the hopes of saving the other person, where I then become hurt because the relationship is too one-sided. I realize that it’s important to take control in these situations by setting boundaries.

Often times, I can become very absorbed by another person’s world and forget to take care of myself first. What has helped me learn to draw the line is realizing that there is only so much I can do for others, and that I can’t take care of others if I don’t take care of myself first. Most people would understand when you let them know that you need time to recharge and that it’s nothing personal on their end.

2. Communicate your feelings through assertive writing.

When it comes to dealing with conflict, I find it highly useful to communicate the issue(s) in written words. Not only does this provide immediate cathartic release, but it also helps bring clarity to the situation and is an effective tool for open communication. An important thing to keep in mind when writing a letter about your conflict with someone is to use “I feel” statements. These statements are profound because they phrase the situation so that it reflects your perspective and emotional needs without putting direct blame on the other person.

An assertive letter should explain the situation as succinctly as possible, without getting into unnecessary details. Here’s a template for you to try:

Dear __________,

Although it’s difficult for me to bring up this subject, I feel that it’s necessary to discuss this (conflict/misunderstanding). Because I feel like I can better express myself in writing, I’ve chosen to write you a letter.

Lately, I’ve been feeling hurt about (insert situation). When (the situation) happens, I feel as though I (what emotional need is not met).

This has been weighing on me and I don’t want to leave it unresolved. I would appreciate if we can straighten this out soon, but even if we can’t, I just wanted you to know how I’m feeling. 

Sincerely,

You

3. Be mindful of how you present yourself.

A person’s word choice and body language can reveal a lot about them. HSPs may be too humble for their own good, and unfortunately, others may perceive this as a sign of weakness and try to take advantage of them. There are certain phrases and words that should be avoided in order to sound more assertive:

  • Just—this word minimizes the power of a statement and makes you seem defensive and apologetic.
  • I’m no expert, but…—this speech habit crops up to avoid sounding pushy or arrogant, but doing so negates the credibility of the statement.
  • I can’t—this is a passive statement and implies losing control over your actions.
  • What if we tried…?—stating an idea as a question invites rebuttals and is taken less seriously than straightforward statements.
  • Sorry–apologizing for things unnecessarily not only comes off as insincere, but it also makes you less assertive.
  • Thanks! : )—overusing exclamation marks and emojis may imply that you’re insecure and concerned about being perceived as kind, worthy, and likeable.

When it comes to body language, some body gestures such as crossed arms, shoulder hunching, and lack of eye contact could indicate defensiveness and a lack of confidence. A great way to improve your body language is through public speaking. Join a public speaking club or practice talking in front of a camera to build confidence and stage presence.

4.  Don’t take things personally.

For HSPs, this is easier said than done. But keep in mind that people often project their negative emotions onto others because they struggle to cope with their own problems. Acknowledging this has helped me create a filter and take things less personally. I also try to understand why I feel defensive in certain situations and recognize that taking things too personally gives certain individuals more power over me than they deserve. As Eleanor Rooselvelt says, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

5. Take control of your happiness.

Finally, I’ve learned that my happiness does not depend on other people. Caring about what others think of me, needing people’s validation, and not giving myself time to relax and breathe makes me miserable. Below are some quotes that I find inspirational when it comes to taking control of my own happiness:

  • “Life’s too short to care what others think.” —unknown
  • “But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?” —Albert Camus
  • “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.” —Marcus Aurelius

Finding my creative muse as an INFP

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Creative expression is the lifeblood of an INFP. They need it in order to convey their innermost feelings and values, and to also grow as an individual.  As an INFP, I can’t imagine what a world is like without creative expression. I think it’s what makes us human—and not robots. Can robots be creative?  That’s for another discussion. (Maybe an INTP/ENTP would like to chime in.)😛

Without creativity, we lose a part of our souls

The imagery that comes to mind when I think of humans losing their essence, as a consequence of not tapping into their creative capacity, is Marx’s depiction of the worker who is alienated from their work and its product in the Capitalist. A worker in an assembly line helps build a product in which they have no say over the design and thus has no meaningful connection to it.  From their repetitive and uninspiring mindless labor, they become living robots—nothing more than a piece of machinery.

Actually, going back to my robot topic, robots are becoming very creative thanks to artificial intelligence and I’m afraid that they are also replacing our creative jobs.  They can now make beautiful artwork, cook gourmet dinner, and perhaps soon they’ll be writing novels and blogs!  My argument is that even though robots may be able to do these things, we definitely shouldn’t stop finding ways to explore or creativity—or else we’ll no longer be what it means to be human.

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As I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog post, creativity helps us with our introspection and self-discovery. It also gives us freedom, lets us express our authentic selves, and helps us define who we are.

So without further ado, here’s how I find my creative muse.

Creativity requires spontaneity

Since my childhood, I liked exploring my creative side using a variety of medium: from writing stories to playing the piano, to decorating my room.  These things occurred to me quite naturally. However, as I get older, I can find myself struggle coming up with new and original ideas. As a content marketer, it’s my full-time job to be constantly developing articles and other forms of content for my agency.  Even as a personal blogger, I sometimes run dry on ideas and get frustrated.

But when inspiration comes, it usually hits with a BANG! Where does this sudden inspiration come from?  If I were to map out my bursts of creativity on a chart, I get these spikes at times in my life when I least expect—when I’m doing something random and outside of my usual routine. This may include going on a last minute trip, from interacting with new people, to watching random videos on YouTube.

3687361The thing with spontaneity is that it happens unintentionally. Actively seeking inspiration breaks the creative chain; so instead, I simply have to live the moment and not think too hard about things (and let my Ne do its magic).  It also helps to put myself out there more, such as going to a meetup event or picking up a random book, because doing so increases my chance of finding that aha moment.  Sometimes creativity comes to me when I’m simply relaxing and being introspective.

So, when I’m low on creative juice, I use that time to take a break and relax and do something different and fun. Before I know it, the creativity will start kicking in again.

Perfectionism is the death of creativity

A lot of times when I’m in the process of producing something, such as a piece of writing, struggle to get my thoughts out even though I have an idea in mind. It’s because I want to make things perfect, which then prevents me from taking action.  Maybe I couldn’t come up with a good sentence, or that I have multiple trains of thought and I’m unsure which one is the best. This kind of thinking leads me down a mental block where nothings coming out and then I eventually feel drained.

When I was reading Everybody Writes by Ann Hadley, one key takeaway from this book was to write the first ugly draft.  This involves spilling out whatever inspiration comes to mind without stopping and thinking about grammar and content. Just let things flow.  The editing and fine tuning come afterwards.

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Spilling out whatever inspiration comes to mind.

As well, I have the attention span of a goldfish and I’m learning how to work with it. If I lose interest in a project, I allow myself to give it a break and try something else and revisit it later with fresh eyes.  I also find it helpful to break things down into chunks. Sometimes I start in the middle, or the top, or the bottom. It doesn’t have to be in any particular order, as long as I feel inspired to work on that section. I also take additional notes as I write while the idea is still fresh, otherwise, I might lose it.

Be bold and continue to experience new things

What makes something original is that it’s taken from a personal experience.  Every person has a story and style that’s unique to them.  Our ideas do not just come out of thin air even though it may seem this way at times: it’s derived from our interactions with the world combined with our perceptions. And so, it’s essential to continue to stay curious and explore new ideas and places in order to fuel our imagination.

4 sure-fire ways to brighten your mood

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Read my original article at Hearty Thought.


Sometimes I find myself feeling dragged by my mundane reality and obstacles of daily life. My life is not nearly as glamorous as the Instagram photos that occupy my social news feed. In spite of that, there are still simple ways to brighten my mood.

I have composed a list of activities that usually cheer me up. My list also applies to everyone as these are some scientifically proven and common ways to boost endorphins and make you feel happier.

1. Sleep

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Having a good night’s rest makes me happy.

Although I may be stating the obvious, I find that sleep is often underestimated. People who sleep irregularly and are sleep deprived feel grumpier and are more prone to health risks including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and depression. Furthermore, sleep deprivation has a negative impact on your metabolism. Much to my surprise, health experts from X Movement explain that the number one strategy for weight loss is having regular sleep. You can find some scientific articles on this topic at the bottom of this article.

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, also documented that adding regular sleep to her resolution has made a tremendous impact on her happiness. She was surprised how something as simple as sleep can have such a positive impact.

 

2. Exercise and Nature Walks

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Nothing makes me feel more serene, mindful and awakened (other than having a good night’s rest) than to go on a nature walk. The scenery, the fresh air, getting more oxygen, all the while listening to some good music, have always helped me to recharge and feel instantly better.

 

3. Novelty

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Being exposed to a new environment, whether it’s from travelling, meeting different people at a café, or going to a bookstore, would help freshen your outlook on life and open your mind. Personally, walking into a Chapters or Indigo bookstore would be instantly gratifying as I find myself exposed to new authors, books, ideas, and topics –it feels like a plethora of wisdom and adventure contained in a store.

 

4. Connection

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Making genuine connections are guaranteed to help you feel better. People who are lonely are prone to life-threatening health risks, similar to obesity and substance abuse.

Pets make great companions and help boost your mood. Dogs, especially, are acutely attuned to humans and emotions. There’s no one better to brighten your day than your best friend who is always eager to see you and will stay by your side through thick and thin.

 

References

American Psychological Association. “More Sleep Would Make Americans Happier, Healthier and Safer”. February 2014.

Mann, Denise. “Sleep and Weight Gain”

Hensrud, Donald. “Is too little sleep a cause of weight gain?” Mayo Clinic.

Gupta, Dr. Sanjay. “Why You Should Treat Loneliness as a Chronic Illness” August 2015.

Robinson and Segal. “The Health Benefits of Dogs (and Cats)” August 2015.

How I stopped comparing myself to others

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I’ve been inspired to blog thanks to this article, which I’ve written over a year ago.  After being published by the Elephant Journal for the first time, I’ve realized that I have a knack for writing. And today, I’m happy to say that I’ve found my career as a content writer. You can view the original article here.


As human beings, we can’t help but compare ourselves to others.

We always want to improve ourselves (perhaps we are hardwired this way for our “survival”), and so we use other people as our reference point for where we need to be.

However, doing so may lead to our misery. (I can say that from my own experience.)

Lately, I can’t help but feel inadequate with regards to where I am in life. It’s been a year since I graduated and I still haven’t found that first full salary or even a sense of direction (after seemingly trying out a million different things).

It’s like I’ve wasted an entire year of my life.

As a person who has a lot of ambition, this is really difficult for me to admit. I feel less accomplished seeing how others are more established in their careers or have more set goals. I wonder, “Am I where I’m supposed to be?”

As my self-doubt grows, I find myself digging into a deeper hole and then realize that I am becoming depressed.

To begin, this hole (this helpless feeling) that I am referring to is really something that I have constructed in my mind.

Somehow I am able to pave my way out of my despair when I start to look at life from a different angle.

People often say, “Just stay positive” or “be grateful for what you have.”

Statements like these don’t resonate with me. They sound too cliché and I feel even more impotent for being unable to follow this advice. I need more guidance than this. I need to know how to do this.

Here are four steps I’ve since taken to dig myself out of this hole:

1. Connect with humanity.

Although we all live separate lives, we share common human experiences such as pain, love, loss and triumph.

These experiences take place at different points in our lives, as life is a long journey. When you can see that we belong to the same humanity, you will have more compassion and acceptance towards yourself and others.

It helps to read stories about others and relate to their experiences. I recommend reading Humans of New York posts.

2. Appreciate your circumstances.

When hearing stories about people who are in extreme and dire circumstances, I become more grateful for my blessings.

Try reading stories about people in which their freedoms are restricted or their survival is at stake. Not only do these add perspective to our lives, we also gain a further appreciation for the strength of the human spirit.

Know that so much power lies within you.

Some memoirs and biographies about survival: Half the Sky, The Glass Castle, The Escape and Twelve Years a Slave.

(I’m sure there are plenty more.)

3. Acknowledge your contribution.

Whenever I leave an impact on the life of another (whether it’s a person, an animal or even a tree), I feel like I’m making a difference in the world.

Sometimes, that’s all it takes for you to see your value and purpose.

4. Realize that success and happiness are not finite.

Finally, there will always be more opportunities for you to find happiness and success.

Unlike the earth’s resources, success and happiness are things that grow, can be shared and are unlimited—they don’t have to come at the expense of others.

Therefore, have faith that you too will find success in life and know that happiness can be found everywhere.

~

“Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life… Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes” ~ J.K. Rowling

 

INFP or INFJ? 7 ways to tell them apart

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Find my original article at Introvert, Dear. 


On the surface, INFPs and INFJs are very similar. They’re both described as idealistic, moralistic, misunderstood, and empathic, among other things. Because of these shared descriptions, it’s not uncommon for people to mistype as one or the other. I, for one, thought I was an INFJ when I’m actually an INFP. The more I learned about INFJs and INFPs, the more confident I became in identifying my true type.

So, let’s take a closer look at some of the differences between INFJs and INFPs:

1. Their differences go beyond just one letter.

The Myers-Briggs personality model is based on Jungian’s cognitive functions, in which each type can be represented by the order of the eight cognitive processes. These functions are Se, Si, Ne, Ni, Te, Ti, Fe, Fi, in which the lower case e or i represents whether the function is directed outwards (extroverted) or inwards (introverted).

For instance, Ne represents Extroverted Intuition, a cognitive function that interprets situations by picking up meanings and connections from external data. In contrast, Ni representsIntroverted Intuition, a function that foresees implications and “what will be” apart from external data.

As Heidi Priebe explains, identifying which functions you use–and in what order–is the most accurate way to type yourself or anyone else. So, lets take a look at the INFP’s and INFJ’s functions:

INFP: Introverted Feeling (Fi), Extroverted Intuition (Ne), Introverted Sensing (Si), Extroverted Thinking (Te)

INFJ: Introverted Intuition (Ni), Extroverted Feeling (Fe), Introverted Thinking (Ti), Extroverted Sensing (Se)

Surprisingly, although INFPs and INFJs are only “different” by one letter, they actually don’t share any of their main functions!

2. INFJs are dominant perceivers, while INFPs are dominant judgers.

The “P” at the end of INFP stands for perceiving, and the “J” at the end of INFJ stands for judging. Yet, these two types have dominant functions that do the opposite! Fi is a Judging function, meaning it approaches life in a structured way, with the goal of controlling one’s environment. Ni is a Perceiving function, meaning it seeks to adapt to the world and understand it. So, at times, INFJs may act like perceivers, unhurriedly observing the world with their only goal being to understand it. Likewise, INFPs can be very decisive and ambitious, especially when they feel motivated and inspired. For this reason, INFJs are often confused for INFPs, and vice versa.

3. INFJs are social chameleons, whereas INFPs are highly individualistic.

Ni combined with Fe makes INFJs seek harmony in their relationships. They want to create positive feelings in social situations and avoid conflict. For this reason, INFJs can be social chameleons. They adapt to other people’s personalities, sometimes mirroring other people’s body language, tone of voice, etc., to make them feel more comfortable—and can appear to be quite extroverted. Likewise, INFJs have a profound understanding of human nature, and they seek to convey these visions in a way that other people will be able to easily grasp. INFJs enjoy providing people with guidance and counsel as it gives them more insight into the human condition.

Whereas INFJs are social chameleons, INFPs are highly individualistic. INFPs use Fi to live authentically and according to their internal values and feelings. Although INFPs do value harmony in their relationships, unlike INFJs, INFPs are opposed to the notion of sacrificing their individuality simply for the sake of harmony or the greater good. For INFPs, the idea of losing themselves to the homogeneity of the mob is terrifying. They prefer that everyone stays true to themselves. INFPs are also empathic and often find themselves investing in the lives of others, to help people reach their potential and to become their most authentic and ideal selves.

4. INFJs and INFPs act differently under stress.

For all personality types, the inferior function (fourth function) can manifest uncontrollably when under stress. The INFJ’s inferior function is Extroverted Sensing (Se). Se acts impulsively and focuses on the present moment that takes place in the physical environment. So, stressed INFJs may make decisions without thinking through the long-term ramifications—which is unusual for INFJs, who typically are cautious decision-makers and thoroughly consider the consequences of their actions. INFJs may also overindulge in physical pleasures like eating, drinking alcohol, or shopping.

INFPs, on the other hand, exhibit ruthless Extroverted Thinking (Te) when under stress. Te is concerned with organizing, systematizing, applying logic, and creating order and structure. Under stress, INFPs may no longer appear to be their usual compassionate and open-minded selves. Instead they may become cold, critical, and judgmental of themselves and/or other people. For example, they may criticize someone for not doing something in a particular way, picking at their errors and flaws.

5. INFJs focus on one major insight, whereas INFPs bounce from idea to idea.

The goal of Ni is to filter out biases and refine perception to arrive at “one truth.” This could mean spending a significant amount of time and energy contemplating a single idea and seeing how it fits into a unified system of thought. This is similar to how Plato scrutinized and broke down the various functions of individuals in a society in order to arrive at his ideal state that he describes in Republic.

In contrast, INFPs use Ne to entertain different ideas and possibilities. They are also more comfortable with uncertainty and spontaneity because this is their way of absorbing information from the world. As a result, INFPs may have many hobbies and interests that feed their need to explore new things. They may have a hard time committing to a particular goal, but this trait also makes them flexible and adaptive to the world.

6. INFJs absorb emotions, whereas INFPs mirror them.

INFJs use Fe to tune into other people’s feelings. They even absorb other people’s emotional states and experience their feelings as if they were their own. Because INFJs are often so focused on other people’s feelings, they can be oblivious to their own feelings—until those feelings become so strong that they can’t ignore them.

INFPs, on the other hand, are very attuned to their own feelings because they use Fi. They can empathize with other people’s emotions like INFJs can, but they do it in a different way—they put themselves in someone else’s shoes and “mirror” the other person’s emotions within themselves. For instance, an INFP would strongly relate to a person’s suffering when they themselves have experienced similar emotions.

7. INFJs desire to be understood, while INFPs desire to be validated.

Although both personalities can feel misunderstood, INFJs tend to feel marginalized because they understand other people well, but other people rarely fully understand them. INFPs, on the other hand, feel misunderstood because no one could possibly ever know them as well as they know themselves. However, interestingly, INFPs may not actually want to be fully understood, since it may entail losing some of their individually and being similar to other people. Rather than being fully understood, INFPs want others to validate that they have good intentions when it comes to their actions or ideas.

Whether you’re an INFP or INFJ, remember that both personalities are beautiful and intelligent in their own ways. Each type has so much to offer the world. Understanding some of the differences between these two complex, rare personality types can help you determine your true type so you can learn how to make the most of your natural abilities.

Why self-esteem actually makes us miserable

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You can find the original Elephant Journal article here. 


There’s a cruel voice inside my head that taunts me every so often.

It tells me that I’m just not good enough and that a part of me is lacking: I could be more accomplished, I could be more outgoing and confident.

In the past, I’ve worked hard to build my self-esteem—this includes exercising more, achieving higher grades in school, being more positive, and meeting more people. Although these in and of themselves are admirable goals, I found the pressure to meet my own standards overwhelming.

One time, I even tried documenting my efforts to stay positive through a series of video blogs, since I was well aware how negative I can be. Shortly after, however, this plan backfired. I would berate myself whenever I had a bad day; I didn’t seem to be significantly happier than what I had been before; I also slightly envied people who seemed more optimistic—all of which has made me felt worse.

So why has self-esteem failed me?

The problem with self-esteem is that filling it is essentially filling a void. It’s insatiable and depends on short-term gratifications. Even at times when my own self-esteem was rising, it was a fleeting moment because it was based on short-lived factors that cannot fully quench my ego. My ego wants more self-esteem in order to be enough. It tells me I should be more confident, prettier, smarter, popular, in order to be worthy.

Focusing on self-esteem has, ironically, made me too critical of myself and even disconnected from others because I became so immersed in my own problems.

Eventually, I’ve discovered that self-compassion, rather than self-esteem, is what helped me get through times in my life when I thought I hit rock bottom. When I was jobless and going through a break-up, I felt all kinds of negative emotions: anger, frustration, disappointment, and helplessness. I was able to let go of these negative feelings by connecting with humanity and being kinder to myself, which is the foundation for self-compassion—the notion that all human beings deserve kindness, and understanding.

Self-compassion seeks clarity and understanding by examining the individual in the context of the rest of humanity—looking at the experiences, environment, and culture the individual is subjected to. This makes self-compassion far less judgmental and more forgiving.

Unlike self-esteem, self-compassion is unconditional: it isn’t dependent on external circumstances and is always available. Studies have also shown that in comparison to self-esteem, “self-compassion is associated with greater emotional resilience, more accurate self-concepts, more caring relationship behavior, as well as less narcissism and reactive anger.”

There are many ways to learn to become more self-compassionate. Here are six ways that I’ve found helpful:

1. Realize it’s part of the human experience to have fears, doubts, and setbacks.

I feel that human beings need to have these experiences in order to learn and grow. Accepting this fact has helped me to be more forgiving with myself. A helpful book that walked me through the negative feelings that I was having is a guided meditation book called Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg.

2. Relate to other people’s suffering.

Sometimes I get so engrossed in my own problems that I forget that I’m not alone in my experience—that the rest of the world is also suffering. By hearing stories that I can relate to and/or find inspiration from, I can also see myself as part of a bigger picture; and suddenly, my problems seem so much smaller.

3. Understand how counterintuitive it is to be hard on ourselves.

Whenever we berate ourselves for not meeting certain expectations, we’ll end up feeling even less confident and drained.  Being hard on ourselves is a form of bullying: it’s essentially beating ourselves up for no good reason. I feel that focusing on self-esteem sets people up for this kind of mentality.

4. Find meaning in life through living our values.

There are certain things in life that cannot satisfy your ego: wealth, fame, and, of course, self-esteem. These things are grounds for me compare myself with others, which makes me feel more miserable. Instead, we can take control of our self-worth and happiness by living according to our values, as these things do not depend on external factors.

5. Accept the world as it is.

Our ideals and expectations can also be a source of unhappiness because reality doesn’t quite match up. Instead of being disappointed in ourselves and others, we can accept the imperfections of the world as it is.

6. Practice mindfulness.

Finally, lift your spirits by living in the moment: go for a nature walk, listen to music, and enjoy a good meal.

By focusing on self-compassion, rather than self-esteem, we’ll be better able to let go of the negative emotions that are holding us back from living our lives and experiencing joy.

 

8 everyday struggles only people who’ve been described as ‘empaths’ can relate to

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Find the original article at Thought Catalog. 

Empaths are highly sensitive individuals who have an innate ability to intuitively feel and perceive other people’s energies and emotions. They can peel away the public façade that people display and reveal their innermost feelings, which gives empaths a strong capacity to heal emotional wounds. However, often times, they encounter troubles that are associated with their highly intuitive and sensitive nature. Here’s a list of some challenges, based on my experiences as an empath, which other empaths may also likely encounter.


1. Being able to see the solution to people’s problems that they themselves can’t see.

Emapths are doctors in a sense: they have deep insights into other people and what their ailments are; they know what’s bothering people at their core and they may also have the prescription to cure them. Others may be unable to see themselves through the same lens and so are un-open to accepting the empaths’ help and wisdom, which may leave empaths feeling cast down and isolated.

2. Entering an unhealthy relationship in hopes of saving the other person.

Empaths may find themselves gravitating towards people who they see “needs fixing.” They may commit to a relationship in order to save their partner even though they know that it’s not their ideal relationship—but they think the good that may come out of it is worth all the trouble.

3. Feeling overwhelmed by negative emotions.

Due to empaths’ high sensitivity, negative emotions can be overwhelming. Hearing sad stories from the news, experiencing conflict and other upsetting situations can elicit very strong and painful emotions.

4. Being an emotional dumping ground for others.

People are comfortable sharing their intimate problems with empaths, as empaths have an aura of understanding and trust. However, empaths can only do this in moderation as they may find themselves worn out from carrying too much of other people’s emotional baggage.

5. Experiencing hurt in an unmutual relationship.

Empaths may also feel disappointed and alone in their relationships if they’re one-sided. They can become very absorbed by another person’s world and care a great deal about them only to discover that the reverse doesn’t always happen.

6. Spreading yourself too thin when trying to save the world.

Empaths are also idealists who want to make the world to be a better place. They may find themselves burning out from all their endeavours when it comes to trying to save others.

7. Second guessing yourself and being quick to accept blame.

Empaths can also be very hard on themselves because they feel accountable and responsible for many things that are beyond their control, including other people’s happiness.

8. Not saving yourself first.

Emapths may hesitate to save themselves first because they think that doing so is selfish, which is not the case. If you’re an empath, know how important it is to take care of yourself first in order to be able to help others. Sometimes there is only so much you can do for others; you might even be doing everyone a disservice by stepping over boundaries. In order to truly help others, show them how they can help themselves by setting a good example.

So save yourself the trouble and learn where to draw the line. Realize that you can’t save people and can only love them. Taking care of yourself and simply listening to people is more than enough to make a positive difference in this world.

Dear INFPs: Trust your feelings

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Recently I’ve gotten myself out of a mess where I was being emotionally manipulated by a narcissistic sociopath. How did I let this happen in the first place?  Well, I stopped listening to my Introverted Feeling (Fi) function, my authenticity driver; instead, I allowed my imagination get too carried away – trying to see the potential good in everyone.

I think us INFPs are prone to being exploited for our unconditional empathy. However, I think our Fi can also prevent this from happening because it tells us when someone is not being genuine and is a potential threat. Don’t turn off these warning signs.  Listen to your heart. 

Our feelings can tell us a lot of truth immediately, which logic fails to do.  For us, logic is only a tool that could help explain and/or validate what we already know deep down. It shouldn’t be used to persuade our feelings (especially when something feels wrong); rather, it should only be used to further serve its purpose. For example, I had to use my Extraverted Thinking (Te) function in order to help me land a career or to not be too reactive to conflict so that I can ultimately feel happier.

So don’t doubt your feelings.  It’s there for a reason. While you’re exploring and expanding your world view with your Extroverted Intuition (Ne) function, entertaining different possibilities, also be mindful of what feels right deep down inside.